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Uganda's U-18 basketball side set off for African championship

By Michael Nsubuga

Added 25th August 2016 01:49 PM

The girls are traveling without four stars.

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The U-18 girls team celebrate after beating Kenya in two qualifying games to the single slot for the FIBA Africa Zone 5 Africa championship, at Lugogo, July 3 2016. (Credit: Michael Nsubuga)

The girls are traveling without four stars.

A depleted Uganda U-18 girls' team finally flies off today to compete in the 14th edition of the FIBA Africa U-18 Women Championship in Egypt after a bailout by National Council of Sports.

The tournament kicks off on August 26 and ends on September 4.

NCS has offered five out of the eight air tickets for the girls who will travel without four stars, who were part of the team during qualification and have opted instead to represent their school, St Mary's Kitende at the East African Schools' Games in Kenya.

Evelyn Nakiyingi, Hope Akello, Hanisha Nabbosa and Naddia Nagginda will miss the African championship which also doubles as a qualifier to the 2017 FIBA U19 World Championship in Turin because they have to fulfill scholarship obligations with the school.

Addressing a press conference at UOC offices, FUBA vice president in charge of administration Nasser Sserunjogi said the rest of the tickets and other logistics came from other well-wishers.

"We have had some financial challenges in trying to make the trip, until last evening (Wednesday) when we decided to travel amid the financial hardships. In this we would like to thank NCS for the five tickets, which has lessened the burden," he said.

"The challenge that remains is with the team; because we had 12 players cleared by FIBA for the championship but the four will not be with the team because they were needed by the school and we shall miss them, so the eight will travel.”

FUBA vice president of administration Nasser Sserunjogi (right) addresses the press flanked by general team manager Mohammed Santur and coach Martin Kelly (left) at Lugogo. (Credit: Michael Nsubuga)

National team general manager Mohammed Santur said a $25000 (sh85m) fine would be the price to pay for failure to participate in the championship.

Despite the poor preparation, team coach Martin Kelly is optimistic of a good show from the Ugandan girls.

"We are travelling under not ideal circumstances but it’s good we are finally traveling. All the girls care about the country and the sport and we hope to perform to the best of our ability; it will be a learning experience as we continue to work hard on our growth," said Kelly.

Uganda will battle against teams from Egypt, Angola, Algeria, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Tunisia.

Grace Kwizera will lead the 14-man delegation that will have three coaches; Martin Kelly, Harriet Lubowa and Nelson Onyuta, a medic and a referee.

The team: Patience Akakunda, Melissa Akulu, Brenda Ayere, Hajara Najjuko, Aaliya Naluyima, Joan Namatovu,  Rita Druciru, and Maimuna Nabossa.

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